Power Hoarding part 3
The past few weeks the world has witnessed to tragedy of the abuse of coercive, informational, and legitimate power. Putin sending Russian troops in to the Ukraine to take over their lands has been an extremely hostile use of coercive and legitimate power. As he spins his story of this being his fight against Nazis in Ukraine, we can see the manipulations and use of informational power. This is all horrible. What also strikes me is how our informational power elites also pick and choose the information that we get and see.
Thanks to people reporting for themselves on platforms like Twitter we see that Africans and other people with darker skin getting a different type of treatment as they flee the war in Ukraine. As terrible as this is, if you have darker skin there has been harsher treatment and denial of being able to be accepted as refugees then white-bodied refugees. We should act to support all of the people of Ukraine to get to safety.
Furthermore we have many humanitarian crises across the world and yet the type of rallying and new coverage of Ukraine is more consistent and seeming in your face than Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia and more. It’s made me really wonder about informational power and what draws us to feel and act with compassion to some more than others. As a Black man in America, this is not exactly a surprise. What does continue to befuddle me is that this can happen on the world stage, in the workplace, and everyday situations and we find excused to minimize the harm. Whether we say “boys will be boys”, “that’s just how it is”, or “there’s nothing we can do”, many of us find a way to not act, not feel bad, rationalize away our ambivalence and inaction.
As a way forward I want to share elements of the racial equity principle “choose connection” from dismantlingracism.org, “We live in a culture of fear. Fear shuts down our ability to be creative, compassionate, and brave; fear also divides us and pits us against each other. Notice when fear shows up, name it, and seek ways to feel it, address it, and choose a way that builds connection and relationship. If you know you are not in a place to do that, then be clear and honest about your limits. Ground your actions in a desire for connection, even if only or first with yourself. Choose love (not that it’s always easy to know what love is in any situation) and ask yourself: what would build connection here? What would build relationship? What would build love?”
Imagine what this world could look like when we curbed the disparities in informational power. Imagine what this world could look like when we held legitimate power accountable for abuse, instead of encouraging the abuse people we weren’t on the bad end of the decisions. Imagine what this world could look like if we recognized and curtailed the types of coercive power that is just pure abuse.